I went to Traveler’s Aid they gave me a bus pass and agreed to pay my first month’s rent 140.00. I had only asked them to pay the first week’s rent. While La Joy and I were there this hungry homeless white man gave La Joy, some crackers and his ensure. We could not really keep milk. I was glad she off formula. La Freda got ringworm. I felt so guilty we had never had anything like that before. I took her to the clinic. I sold my bus pass at the men’s shelter a few blocks away to get some medicine for ringworm. I did not want to ask the shelter for help getting the medicine because they would post a notice saying somebody had ringworm and I did not to deal with that.
Centennial Park became our second home. I would sit and watch the people. Dreaming about coming here with the girls after we were settled. We would watch the water show. Don a single father with two boys helped us before I was approved for welfare. He would buy us stuff to eat. He taught me how to get around downtown Atlanta. He allowed me to use his bus pass since I had sold mine. We went to the free concerts in the park. We saw La Tosha Scott of Escape.
After a couple of weeks my parents came, they found me at the library I had just sat down to email my friends from St. Louis. We left and went to La Frieda’s school. They took us out to dinner at Chili’s in Alpharetta and showed me where my uncle lived. I was so shocked I could not finish my food. I was never full when I finished eating meals at the shelter they were not filling. I was always hungry. My oldest daughter decided to go back to St. Louis with them. That was the hardest weekend. I thought about giving my youngest daughter to her Dad. That Monday I was so glad I changed my mind, when La Joy held me so tight. I thought I was stupid to let one child go but not the other.
The amount of day care assistance the state of Georgia gave me was not enough to put La Joy in a day care center. One center said they would work with me but they would not put it in writing. My day care caseworker refused to approve my day care assistance. She told me people here in Atlanta people will run game on you. She gave me a dollar to call her back once I found a day care center. I used it to get La Joy a snack for the day. I did find a way to call her. I finally got day care for La Joy after being in Atlanta 3 weeks. I thought about what my Grandma had said when I was in Ponca City and had a day care issue. She asked did I pray about it so I prayed. At the Atalnta day shetler, I used the phone to call a list of at home day care providers in the booklet I was given at the social services office. I met Mrs. C. Mrs. C answered the phone the others I got answering machines. Day care was important for La Joy it meant she would eat and be safe all day long.
La Joy would beg strangers for candy and snacks. I was so embarrassed but I did not stop her because she was probably hungry. The morning bus driver would flirt with me and gave La Joy candy. I could relax at Mrs. C house. She let me store food there. I started job hunting. I applied at fast food places and hotels. I got an interview at Marriott Marquee for a banquet position. I got a call back for a second interview but they had filled the position before I could call them to schedule a time. Mrs. C’s husband tired to get me a job at the hotel he worked at. I got an interview there and I went to the Day Shelter to get some clothes. They gave me a navy blue pants suit. I had never interviewed before in pants suit. I did not have any make up. After a couple of months I got tired of looking for a job, so I hung out at the library reading magazines, books, emailing friends and applying for jobs online. Some days I would feel sad because I missed working in the library.
I hated the days the day care was closed. We would have to ride the train all day. I felt I did not want to expose La Joy to the day shelter more than I had. If I did not have any money or Food stamps, we would go.
Things got a little better after received my final check for my library job in St. Louis. I was the shelter baller then. Having money was frustrating because I still did not have what I wanted place to stay. I brought a cell phone. Louie came and got us. We drove around to all the studios in Atlanta. After that we went to the hotel. When he was in St. Louis, we had found the address for the studio on the Internet. La Joy would not go to sleep. Louie and I were getting intimate. I had been celibate for a year. Someone knocked on the door and broke the hold mood.
Don and I looked at an apartment we thought about moving in together. I wasted my money on the application fee. Don decided he did not like the property owner after we left the office. Don wanted to date me but I was stuck on My Chocolate boo, Louie. Don was put out of the shelter for not being able to pay his rent, I was so sad. I wished I could have helped. The previous week a woman from Florida paid Don’s rent.
At the Salvation Army, different churches came to pick up the homeless I decided to go one Sunday. I went to Word of Deliverance church. When I got to the church I could have fell out they had banner that said out the Egypt the same thing I thought when I was in the car on the way to Atlanta. One weekend I decided to follow Mrs. C to her church Newbirth. I thought it looked like an arena it was so huge. I was amazed to see all my black people praising and worshiping God together. It was an awesome experience. I continued to go to Word of Deliverance until I left the Salvation Army shelter. The church members encouraged the visitors to participate in the service not just sit on the pew. They encouraged you to sing along and dance. Before then I spent services asking God about should I marry the man in my life.